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Back to back: Bridge earns “Newspaper of the Year” honors for 2nd straight year

GRAND RAPIDS – Bridge Magazine earned “Newspaper of the Year” honors for the second straight year and won 19 total awards in the Michigan Press Association’s annual statewide journalism competition.

“If anyone was wondering what the future of journalism might look like, well, Bridge Magazine might just be a perfect example,” judges said in naming Bridge the best news website in the state. “This site contains excellent writing, it is well organized and informative… These guys get it.”

In addition to Best Website, Bridge earned first and second place in Best Writing, second place in Public Notice Journalism, and third place in Public Service in open competition with all newspapers statewide.

Among large weekly newspapers, Bridge earned:

  • Newspaper of the Year.
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention in business news reporting.
  • 1st and 2nd place in government/education reporting.
  • 1st, 3rd, and honorable mention in news enterprise reporting.
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in photo story.
  •  1st in feature writing.
  • 1st in column writing.

Launched in 2011 by the Center for Michigan, Bridge Magazine is part of a nationwide movement of nonprofit news publications launched to provide deeper public information in an era of widespread media cutbacks. It is supported by two dozen foundations and corporate funders and thousands of reader donations.

“Our readers, funders, and staff expect Bridge to have an important impact in Michigan,” said John Bebow, president and CEO of the Center for Michigan and Bridge Magazine. “We are humbled, honored and grateful to receive this recognition from our peers in the news business. Our team works night and day to tell the story of Michigan and bolster professional journalism in these increasingly complex times. There’s so much more work to do in the months and years ahead.”

The full list of Bridge Magazine’s MPA awards and judges’ comments:

Open competition with all statewide newspapers…

Best Writing – 1st Place: “Game Day” by Nancy Derringer, Mike Wilkinson and Ron French: “What an investment by reporters, writers and editors to shed light on a problem and to true grassroots reporting… The writers constantly step back to write with authority… This work sets a standard that more journalists should aim for.”

Best Website – 1st Place: “If anyone was wondering what the future of journalism might look like, well, Bridge Magazine might just be a perfect example… If you haven’t visited this site before, you should. And take some notes. These guys get it. We could all take some lessons from Bridge Magazine. This might be where we’re headed.”

Best Writing – 2nd Place: “He’s a College Senior with a 3.4 GPA, and He’s Homeless,” by Ron French: “There can be no great writing without great reporting. This package nails it. The writer takes us into his world, debunks stereotypes and uses vivid detail so that we understand exactly what his options were and how he made his choices. Excellent work.”

Public Notice Journalism – 2nd Place: “Disaster Day by Day: A Flint Timeline,” by the Bridge staff: “Great journalism.”

Public Service Award – 3rd Place: “Flint Water Crisis Coverage,” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Ron French, Mike Wilkinson, Lindsay VanHulle and John Bebow: “This entry was massive, providing tons of information that many of the national news organizations didn’t provide when they stormed Flint.”

In statewide large weekly newspaper contest…

Best Column – 1st Place, Phil Power“Phil Power’s columns feel like must-read, common-sense material about issues that directly impact lives in Michigan. They are well-thought, well-reasoned and engaging.”

Business News – 1st Place: “Michigan’s Stumbling Middle Class," by Ron French: “If I could rate this entry a 20, I would. This is a writer who’s not only done his homework, he should teach the class. This is hands-down the best-researched and best-written entry I’ve seen in a state contest.”

News Enterprise Reporting – 1st Place: “Game Day: The Unsuccessful Struggle to Curb College Binge Drinking,” by Nancy Derringer, Mike Wilkinson, and Ron French: “Game-day Saturdays are a strange combination of wonderful and frightening, as you see young people, many under legal drinking age, making both those ‘rites of passage’ and those far-reaching personal decisions. The teamwork and depth that went into this series was a winner.”

Government/Education News – 1st Place: “The Governor and the Mayor,”  by Ron French: “Important issue. Well-researched.”

Feature Story – 1st Place: “He’s a College Senior with a 3.4 GPA, and He’s Homeless,” by Ron French:  “The writer took a great opportunity with a compelling subject, added multiple references and research. The opening certainly draws you in. Plus, you can’t argue with the results of the subject getting some help.”

Photo Story – 1st Place: “Homeless College Student,” by Brian Widdis: “Great story with some very nice frames.”

Government/Education News – 2nd Place: “Asleep at the Desk,” by Ted Roelofs: “Interesting subject, great follow up.”

Business News – 2nd Place: "People Need Jobs, Companies Need Workers. Busing: A Love Story,”  by Chastity Pratt Dawsey: “Skillfully written narrative packed with facts and illustrated with real people to drive them home. You made transportation infrastructure interesting.”

Photo Story – 2nd Place: “How to Take Wildlife Photos Like a Boss,” by Eric Sharp: “Great crops on images and use of color and lighting.”

News Enterprise Reporting – 3nd Place: “Disaster Day by Day: A Flint Timeline,” by the Bridge staff: “Putting it starkly in calendar form is an easy way to show where it began to go wrong and how long it might take to make it right.”

Photo Story – 3rd Place: “Game Day,” by Bridge staff: “Great look into the college game day lifestyle.”

Business News – 3rd Place: “When Low-Wage Workers’ Problems Become a Company’s Problem” by Lindsay VanHulle:  “Kudos for the incredible amount of research and interviewing that went into this series. Statistical support is excellent and so are the real-person narratives of people involved in this problem and the process to rectify it.”

Business News – Honorable Mention: “The Graying of Michigan’s Farmers, and What They’ll Leave Behind,” by Ron French: “Great example of an important story right under everyone’s noses that needed to be told. Interactive map is a good touch.”

News Enterprise Reporting – Honorable Mention: “Concussions in High School Sports,” by Ted Roelofs: “Wide-ranging sources of information. Curious that there has been a call to action for the schools, but no hard policy set.”

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